On walking in the shade

Summer, July, specifically, always reminds me of my eternal for shadow. The sun and I just don’t get along at all. Light snow and 27F and I’m happy. So today I’m out for my daily constitutional and it’s already pushing 90F really hard, there are no clouds in sight, and the early morning shade of the buildings is already in short supply. I move from tree to tree only the sidewalk, but the shade is quickly dwindling, and the white light of the sun beating down on the Castilian central mesa is brutal. At just around 2,030 feet of elevation, the air is just thin enough to let the sun fry you to a crisp if you let it. Since the average humidity is just under 30% on any given day in summer, the shade is a nice refuge from the sun–you feel warm, but you aren’t going to pass out from heat stroke either. You can even feel the breeze when you walk in the shade. The problem is, however, there isn’t enough shade to go around, and frequently the geometry between the angle of the sun and the orientation of the buildings is wrong, leaving you out in the sun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no vampire, I can handle a little sun, but this is not the time of year to find out how much. Funny thing is that when you want a little heating from the sun–mid-January, let’s say–you can’t get it because of the low angle of the sun all day. The shade is the last refuge of the air-conditionally challenged. Sitting in the shade and drinking a nice, cold glass of lemonade is a fine thing do on a hot July day, but installing new sidewalk in the middle of the burning sunshine holds absolutely no interest for me. I saw lots of people working out in the sun this morning even before it was really hot, and none of them looked as if they were enjoying any of it. Things slow down in July precisely because there is not a enough shade to go around and everyone must share. The shade is lit by indirect light which means the bright whiteness of the day won’t hurt your eyes–colors are muted, shadows are deeper, a million shades of gray play off the multiple urban surfaces of the city. To sit in the shade on a hot summer day and do nothing but relax is a pleasure which must be experienced rather than narrated. When you have already been sweating, your mouth is dry, your head is hurting, you feel hot, and the shade is nowhere to be seen, summer seems incredibly cruel. I’ve been through cold, ice, and snow, biting winds, and bitter cold temperatures, but I’ve never felt worse than when I’ve had to work in the blazing sun with no respite in sight, sweat streaming down my face, running everywhere. There is something about the bright light, the heat, that hurts my soul, that makes me feel bad, that makes me want to stay inside, to forget my daily constitutional. Yet, walking outside is such an important part of good health, both mental and physical, that I must face my worst enemy and venture out into the sun, the light, the heat. Yes, I wear a hat, sunscreen, and that helps alleviate the heat, but it doesn’t make it go away. Only the earth, tilted on its axis, moving blindly around the sun, changing the angle of the sun, gives me any relief, but in the meantime, I will continue to walk in the shade.